With the United States hosting the 2016 Copa America, U.S. national team captain Clint Dempsey believes that the Yanks need to take advantage of a rare opportunity and push for the trophy.
"Yeah, I think that's realistic and it's something that you have to push for," Dempsey told ESPN FC at a promotional event for EA Sports' FIFA '15. "It's not just saying it, it's doing it. It will be difficult but at the same time, anything is possible. On home soil, you want to make it count."
While the Copa America is normally held in South America and pits the best teams from the region against each other in the same way that the European Championship does for UEFA, the 2016 edition is a special edition of the tournament celebrating its centennial. With storied national teams like Brazil and Argentina in the event, Dempsey believes that this will be a good platform for the United States to continue its progress.
"I'm excited and looking forward to the Copa America in two years' time, that being here on home soil, it will continue the growth of the game in the United States," Dempsey said. "It's an exciting tournament where you'll be able to watch some of the best teams of North and South America and Central America.
He added, "The team continues to show that we're getting better. It's exciting to be able to test ourselves in that competition and seeing what we're able to accomplish. But that's something that you have to be pushing for especially because you don't get many opportunities to play in competitions like that."
Just over two weeks removed from the United States' thrilling World Cup campaign, which ended in a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Belgium in extra-time, Dempsey reflected on his team's positives in Brazil.
"I think if you look at the past two World Cups, we were able to advance out of the group and get into the knockout stages. I think that was first time in consecutive World Cups that the team was able to do that," Dempsey said.
The midfielder believes that the Stars and Stripes were able to defy expectations thanks to amazing fan support of the team both in the U.S. and in Brazil.
"Getting out of the group that we were in, one of the most difficult groups and people had counted us out but the players believed in each other and we had a lot of support. Outside of Brazil, the U.S. had the most tickets sold.
"Feeling that home away from home, going to games and seeing all of the faces and people with the flags and our jerseys, it all shows that the game continues to grow."
The 31-year-old also reiterated that he would like to continue playing for the team even though it is rare for players in their mid-30s to have a significant role in international play. Dempsey admitted that he hasn't spoken to U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann about his role moving forward in the team's next cycle.
"I haven't spoken with him [about that yet], I don't know what his take is," Dempsey said.
But he insisted that he will keep on fighting for a spot on the national team roster.
"If I perform well and get called up, then I'll go," he said. "If I don't get called in then I won't go. I would like to continue playing but it's not whether or not I want to do it, it's whether or not I get called in. So you have to keep on working hard to make that happen. "